The Echoing Green by William Blake



This is the third poem in The Songs of Innocence, where we see a simple pastoral scene with families playing in a green pasture during springtime, from a child's perspective. But as adults reading it we will see something different, maybe even something slightly dark.

In this episode I will show teachers and parents a simple exercise to enjoy this Blake poem as a family. As all the songs of innocence, this is a great poem to read to children. And as Blake intended, children will have one experience of the poem, while adults will have a different one. Both are correct!

We will explore the poem and the hand made illustrations by William Blake from a child's view of the poem (to the best of my old man abilities!) and from an adults perspective.


Here are the plates from the original book by William Blake.






The Ecchoing Green

BY WILLIAM BLAKE


The sun does arise,

And make happy the skies.

The merry bells ring

To welcome the Spring.

The sky-lark and thrush,

The birds of the bush,

Sing louder around,

To the bells’ cheerful sound.

While our sports shall be seen

On the Ecchoing Green.

Old John, with white hair

Does laugh away care,

Sitting under the oak,

Among the old folk,

They laugh at our play,

And soon they all say.

‘Such, such were the joys.

When we all girls & boys,

In our youth-time were seen,

On the Ecchoing Green.’

Till the little ones weary

No more can be merry

The sun does descend,

And our sports have an end:

Round the laps of their mothers,

Many sisters and brothers,

Like birds in their nest,

Are ready for rest;

And sport no more seen,

On the darkening Green.




Below is the complementary poem from The Songs of Experience



The Garden of Love

BY WILLIAM BLAKE


I went to the Garden of Love,

And saw what I never had seen:

A Chapel was built in the midst,

Where I used to play on the green.


And the gates of this Chapel were shut,

And Thou shalt not. writ over the door;

So I turn'd to the Garden of Love,

That so many sweet flowers bore.


And I saw it was filled with graves,

And tomb-stones where flowers should be:

And Priests in black gowns, were walking their rounds,

And binding with briars, my joys & desires.